Three part-time models getting dirty in Hong Kong obstacle course race urge can-do spirit

Event entailing running, climbing, swimming and more over 6km route can encourage people to leave their comfort zone, they say

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 November, 2017, 4:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 November, 2017, 4:02pm

It’s muddy, sweaty and certainly not the typical setting for encountering threepart-time male models. But getting dirty might be the best place for the trio to encourage Hongkongers to get out of their comfort zone.

As they prepare for Saturday’s Spartan obstacle course race in the New Territories, Avis Chan Wai-sing, Karl Cheung Ka-wai and Jeremy Wong Chun-ho say they want to remind Hongkongers of their can-do spirit and motivate them to achieve beyond their limits.

“It’s a breakthrough for us and probably for everyone in the race,” Chan says of their participation. “And I hope Hongkongers can try to do something new at some point because we never know our limits unless we push ourselves to them.”

Spartan races are long obstacle courses that require competitors to run, climb, swim, throw spears, sprint up hills, crawl, swing from bars and lift heavy weights such as sandbags and buckets of gravel.

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The concept began in 2010 and is the brainchild of Joe De Sena, who formerly owned a Wall Street trading firm. Organisers claim that over 240 races are slated to be held in 25 countries this year.

On Saturday, the three men join an expected 8,000 participants locally in tackling some 20 obstacles over a 6km course at Kam Tin Country Club, Yuen Long.

“I think if you’re able to complete Spartan, there’s nothing you can’t do in the future,” Wong says. “As a Hongkonger, I want to show others the can-do spirit that we’re always proud to have.”

The three admit being conscientious about their physical appearance and claim their love of sport brought them to the rugged field.

If you’re able to complete Spartan, there’s nothing you can’t do in the future
Jeremy Wong, Spartan participant

Cheung describes being drawn to “the feeling of satisfaction after overcoming obstacles” and believes that “competition means improvement”.

To prepare for the strenuous race, they worked out two hours per day and did basketball training five times per week. Yet each man says training is not at all difficult.

Like Cheung, Chan likes how sport could bring people together. “You can’t complete Spartan alone. You need to work as a team.”

Chan, 36, is a newbie to Spartan, and learned about the race from his long-term friends. Cheung, 29, and Wong, 27, both took part in the event in the past.

Reflecting upon his experience a year ago, Wong recalls: “It was pouring last year during the race, and no matter what type of shoes you were wearing, you were basically like skating on ice.”

“The most unforgettable moment was when I swam in the mud,” he adds. “I’m actually not sure if it was mud or cow poop.”

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“As someone who lives in a big city and enjoys that type of life, I am very fortunate to have nice clothes and food. The race made me realise that I shouldn’t take anything for granted.”

Cheung expressed hesitation at first about jumping into the muddy water, but he saw “lots of female participants around me doing it and not holding back at all, so that kind of forced me to jump in”.

Asked about the key to their success in this year’s race, all three say with a chuckle: “Don’t be afraid of cow poop!”

The three and four other teammates were chosen to represent Swiss watch brand Luminox, which is Spartan’s official race timekeeper.